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The Swedish Tradition That’s Like Hygge, but for the Office

Katie Maguire

Katie MaguireJanuary 23, 2017

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You already know all about hygge, the Danish home trend that’s making your Saturday-nights-in feel way more cozy.

But for those days when you have to go into work (which, unless you’re all about that WFH life, is likely every weekday), there’s another Scandinavian lifestyle trend that could fundamentally change your 9-to-5.

Introducing fika, the Swedish practice of taking an afternoon break.

Although the name might sound familiar (it’s the inspiration of the New York City coffee chain), it’s not just a ploy to combat the 3 p.m. slump. The art of fika, which I’m told can be used as a both a noun and a verb, is when co-workers, families, and friends all take a pause from their work, put down their phones, close all of their tabs, and enjoy a coffee (or tea).

Photo: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony

“There aren’t really rules to fika, except to take a break from everything—and I think that’s what makes it so special,” explains Anna Brones, co-author of Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. “Fika is not coffee in a to-go cup [that you sip] while sitting in front of your desk; it’s a break—even a short one—to just check out from the everyday for a few minutes.”

While it often doubles as time to socialize (IRL, not via text or phone), fika can also be enjoyed solo—offering the opportunity to just slow down for a bit and focus on the present. (And seriously, when do you really get to do that?) “Often it’s just a cup of coffee and a few minutes to do something like sketch out an idea for an art project or flip through a magazine—just something that gets me off of my computer and doing something else entirely,” says Brones.

And while it hasn’t yet reached hygge-level crossover appeal in the States, there are signs that Americans are ready to embrace the break: Just last week, a Well+Good editor spotted a sign outside of buzzy NYC beverage spot Cafe Integral inviting people in for a fika.

Worried that your boss might not be into your daily disappearance? Let her know that Swedes take their fika so seriously, companies are required by law to allow their workers to take a five minute break for every hour they work. New work policy, anyone?

If you need a coffee recipe, look no further than this gut-friendly bulletproof-approved coffee recipe. More of a work-from-home type? (Lucky!) Here’s how to give your place a hygge makeover.

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